Dragonskull Keep

This is one of those pieces of flash fiction that I wrote while figuring out the backstory of a couple of my character's from GOBLIN'S APPRENTICE. It's not perfect, but it isn't supposed to be.


Dragonskull Keep

Margaret A. Golla

Anger infused every step he took, killing all plant life within a meter radius. Kalen Van’Dar, powerful mage of the Celestian council, a necromancer, had managed to let the one person in the way of his ascending the throne to slip through his fingers.

His plan had been perfect: seduce Queen Deanara with his magic-laced words, take over her mind to control the Celestian Council and conquer Celestia. Simple.

But his greed had cost him. He’d pushed Deanara too hard, and now she’d vanished, along with her goblin mentor, Rhan. Suspected of treason by the council, Van’Dar was on the run. Malvoren elves tracked him even as his ire killed the forest around him.

It was time for an alternate plan.

A calculated grin wreathed his face as he entered a clearing. He sent a thought, “Come to me.” He would disappear, not from Celestia, but from the minds of those who knew him. He must regain control of Dragonskull Keep, his tower and source of his power. It was time to move his pawn into position.

Wind buffeted the air as a griffin landed across the clearing, folded its wings and with big cat grace slinked across to punt its head against Van’Dar’s chest. “Yes, my friend, it is time,” he murmured.

The griffin bowed, allowing Van’Dar to climb on its back in front of its wings. Van’Dar raised his hand, muttered a few words, and sliced it open with his dagger. Blood sprayed across the clearing as the earth churned under the griffin’s claws, mimicking a battle, one that Van’Dar had lost. “To Dragonskull.”

The griffin took to the air carrying its burden willingly. Van’Dar cast another spell to cover their progress with shadows. Malvoren elves would find evidence of the battle, drawing the conclusion that he had been killed and taken away to feed the griffin’s cublets.

They would be wrong.

Once Dragonskull was his again, he would grow his army, influence his followers, and bide his time until war was needed to gain what had almost been his. Soon they approached the rocky promontory overlooking Dragonskull. The griffin backwinged into a soft landing, and bowed low as Van’Dar dismounted.

He placed his hand on the griffin’s head, inches from a beak that could easily savage him. “Thank you, my friend. May the wind always be at your back.” The griffin bowed his head, turned and loped off the rock only to take to the air with a beat on silent wings, disappearing from sight.

Planting his staff, Van’Dar concentrated and mind-spoke to his pawn. “M’kel? It is time.”

M’kel, as he was known by elves in this garrison, woke from a sound sleep. He hated the name, but it wouldn’t do to have his real name—Magyar—spoken. Elves had long memories. They would remember the invasion of his village. The slaughter the elves brought with them and the death they received in return. It was a mystery that only he and Van’Dar knew the answer. Van’Dar had taken him in, taught him, and trained him. If it weren’t for the necromancer, Magyar would have died that day instead of the invaders—Malvoren elves may they be damned forever.

It was time for to repay his debt to Van’Dar. “I am here, Master.”

“Kill everyone in the keep. Kill the guards patrolling the wall. Open the gates. I want to be welcomed into my home by death.”

“It is your will, Master.”

Magyar quietly rolled off the straw mat on the floor, picked up two long knives he had placed next to his bed. Methodically, he walked to each sleeping elf, crossed his blades around their necks and pulled outward, slicing their throats. Blood splattered on his hands and face as it spilled from their severed throats only to be absorbed by the straw they lay on.

Memories of that fateful day returned.

Twenty times he repeated this action. Twenty times he killed Malvoren elves as they slept.

Wall torches threw a low light over the carnage as Magyar looked around. One was missing. Who?

An elf walked into the great hall, adjusting his leggings after a visit to the garderobe. His footsteps faltered as the smell of death caressed his senses. He looked around, spotting the lifeless bodies around the room. His gaze turned to Magyar’s shadowy figure, knives dripping with blood from his murdered comrades.

The elf turned and fled.

“T’rgon!” Magyar snarled as he took chase. If the elf opened the keep’s doors to alert the outside guards, all would be lost. With one blade he snagged T’rgon’s cloak and pulled him close, placing the other blade against the elf’s throat. “It’s not personal, T’rgon,” Magyar whispered into his ear. With a quick swipe, Magyar sliced T’rgon’s throat. Warm blood poured down the body as it dropped to the floor.

Time was of the essence as Magyar methodically walked through the keep, killing the remaining elves, including the cooks and wantons. No one must escape. No one must suspect him of this treachery.

When the keep was silent, Magyar let himself out the great doors. One by one he killed the remaining guards. “It is done, Master.”

“Open the gate. Let the trolls enter.”

Magyar pulled the rope to raise the portcullis. He’d barely begun to raise the gate when it was shoved upward by one of the monster trolls who called Van’Dar master.

Trolls trooped into the keep. The garrison would protect and guard his master as he wove his magic. Now was Magyar’s time to sacrifice for his master’s cause.

Van’Dar strode into the bailey, regal and kingly. Fist over his heart, Magyar bowed. “I serve my master’s needs.”

“Yes. It is time.” Van’Dar caressed Magyar’s cheek before gesturing to three smaller trolls. “Gravely injure him. Do not kill. Play your role well, M’kel, and you will be rewarded.”





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